Paswans Vs, Not With, Nitish Kumar In Election? Key Meet Today
The Election Commission is likely to announce the election this month (File)
- LJP to discuss in a meet whether they should go with JDU in Bihar polls
- Paswans might discuss if they can contest only against JDU, not BJP
- Both parties have been launching attacks on each other since some time
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar will launch his campaign for state elections on Monday, under a cloud of uncertainty over his key alliance with the Lok Janshakti Party or LJP, led by Chirag Paswan. The same day, Chirag Paswan's father, Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, will meet his party leaders to discuss whether they should go with or against the Janata Dal United in the upcoming polls.
Both the parties have been sparring over the last few months on a host of issues including its handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the collapse of a road during the recent floods. In July, the LJP sided with the opposition to allege that there was no initiative on part of the Chief Minister to investigate the death of Sushant Singh Rajput, a "promising young man" from the state.
Mr Kumar's recent decision to join forces with former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, a Dalit leader like the Paswans with a history of acrimony with the LJP, has worsened the ties.
A day before the meeting, Chirag Paswan, 37, said Nitish Kumar hasn't fulfilled the promise of free land made to members of the scheduled caste and scheduled tribe communities.
Chirag Paswan, who has been attacking Mr Kumar over a host of issues and rallied behind the opposition over deferring the Bihar polls because of the coronavirus outbreak, also demanded jobs for all those from SC/ST communities who died during the Chief Minister's 15-year-long rule.
In a scathing letter to the Chief Minister on Sunday, Chirag Paswan also questioned Nitish Kumar's promise of free land made to members of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled tribes, questioning why it was not met yet.
The Paswans, however, have not directly attacked the BJP, which has been saying that the upcoming elections will be contested under the leadership of the JDU chief and with all the existing allies.
According to reports, the Paswans, in the meeting, might discuss with their leaders the feasibility of an arrangement wherein the party will stay put in the NDA and contest only against the JDU, not against the BJP.
A similar electoral strategy had worked for the LJP in 2005, when the party had played a pivotal role in stopping Lalu Yadav's RJD from winning yet another term in government. The LJP, a Congress-RJD ally at the time, had contested polls against Mr Yadav's party only, which resulted in a hung assembly. In subsequent polls, Mr Kumar got enough seats to form his maiden government.
If the LJP - which has notable support among the Paswan community and other scheduled caste communities - decides to contest against the JDU-BJP combined, the opposition might benefit.
The Election Commission is likely to announce the election this month.